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Daniel Radcliffe and the Art of the Fact-Check (2018) (newyorker.com)
177 points by Tomte 70 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 12 comments

I'm not sure why, but I really enjoyed this piece. I wouldn't have thought that smaller articles, such as restaurant reviews, would go through a fact-check at an outfit the size of the New Yorker.

And yet, it's a good thing it did! Wouldn't want people to think the grasshoppers are fried or that the guac is seasoned with adobo.

Agreed, I really enjoyed it.

I only clicked for name recognition, but it could have been an actor I've never heard of and the story would have been just as interesting.

Haha. I mean, you’re obviously not wrong. No less, having written a few articles for publication, it is extremely helpful to have this kind of verification and correction to even the smallest details, and I imagine that is true for article/review subjects too. I’ve read enough (published) restaurant and entertainment reviews with glaringly incorrect information to see the utility for this particular situation. But, generally, this kind of fact checking is extremely time-consuming, and it’s a lot faster to have people who do mostly this kind of thing. Plus, if you have a third party do it, it does at least seem like there would be ethical benefits and also stuff like reduced animosity for people like journalists between writers and subjects when there is an unintentional mismatch (or specifically journalists and sources). That said, I can imagine a wealth of situations in which mandatory fact-checkers seems like and inane and all-around frustrating exercise.

The idea of Radcliffe calling up a Mexican joint in Brooklyn and introducing himself as "Dan at the New Yorker" - impossible to read without imagining in his accent - is also whimsical.

Looks like I'm joining 50% of the current commentators, who just wanted to share they felt this was a charmingly written piece!

This is a hard job, I respect anyone who has to do this.

I've seen so many wrong or questionable answers on Snopes where I wouldn't trust it as a blind yes/somewhat/no answer anymore, without closely reading the explanation. Which is very worrying considering some people have been pushing these services as a solution to "fake news". Consumers should aways have the option of reading the paragraphs, maybe via inline warnings instead of silencing it by scrubbing it from the news feeds.

That said I've also noticed people in general are getting better at arguing and positioning their points. Twitter and other social media are generating huge amount of well-trained debaters (and expert tier complainers) who know how to present information and facts effectively and calling other people out for it too.

Edit: the sublinked article about the Fact-checking book which inspired the play is also excellent: https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/the-art-of-fact-...

It sounds like the New Yorker has it down to a fine art as much as possible.

- Identify every statement that could be construed as a fact

- Formulate a simple yes/no question for each one

- Verify with a quick phone call asking trusted source each question in turn

And just don't skip on the process no matter how insignificant or seemingly obvious as there is no room for error in the current environment.

I bet we've all experienced the bit in a movie or TV show where they're portraying your job and go, "It's not even slightly like that." I bet everybody in every profession gets that. Usually the problem is at the writing stage, or perhaps in the directing.

Sometimes the goal is to seem real to a general audience, even when the writer/director/actor knows better. Audiences wouldn't want to see the job of a programmer; it's deathly dull even when we're doing "exciting" things. I prefer to handwave over such things: if it's not exciting to look at, then just don't depict it rather than fictionalize it. If the story has to go through a moment like that, get a better story.

I appreciate that Radcliffe is here mimicking some of the dull, prosaic work. It's kinda neat to see an actor be excited to momentarily be somebody else. It's a great feeling on stage to be able to convey some of that to an audience.

Interesting fact: Steve Martin married the fact-checker of his New Yorker pieces in the late 90s.

The accompaniying podcast episode of The New Yorker Radio Hour is also great: https://www.wnycstudios.org/story/daniel-radcliffe-gets-his-...

I wish there was some kind of browser extension and wiki-esque community by which I could underline checkable facts online like the editor did in this piece. Like a "[citation needed]" tag on wikipedia, but everywhere.

Hah, cheeky bastid.

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